Sunday, December 27, 2009

Arflene Kushner

Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat)

I begin with some important housekeeping notes. After years of sending out my postings regularly, this past week I ran into unfortunate (and exceedingly frustrating) transmission problems.

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I apologize for the necessity for this message and thank you for your cooperation. Hopefully, everything will run smoothly from this point.


The pain and the pride:

The funeral of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai was held yesterday, with thousands in attendance. What impressed me most were the words of his son, Eliyahu (I believe about 18 years of age), who said:

"I want to say to the youth – continue in my father's path. Father wanted faith, he wanted Torah study, he wanted prayers. He could not stand to see that there are no tefillin (phylacteries). He had to see all of the mitzvot (commandments). If you want to memorialize my father these are the things you should do. Not to beat up Arabs with sticks. We are human beings and we will not shoot them in the head for no reason. We are human beings, we are the youth of Samaria... Father would be happiest if he saw us studying.”

The absence of rancor and bitterness, the lack of desire for retribution, even in the face of fresh pain, seems to me extraordinary. The devotion is to the values taught by his father.


In this faith community, the belief is that the blood of the innocent will be avenged by the Almighty.

But I would add that we human beings also have accountability to the situation. To take an accounting of how we as a nation conduct ourselves. To make it impossible or near impossible for such senseless tragedies to happen again. To protect our people first, the desires and demands of others be damned. And to let the world know that the first priority of our nation Israel is the protection of the people of Israel.


And, in point of fact, the IDF has successfully tracked those responsible, and in the course the operation, which took place in Shechem (Nablus) three Al Aksa Brigades terrorists were killed: They were called upon to surrender and when they did not, they were fired upon.

The PA has condemned this (they didn't condemn the drive-by shooting). A spokesman for Abbas said with this Israel was torpedoing attempts by the US and the international community to resume negotiations.

A rather amusing statement, considering that Abbas is standing on his head to avoid coming to the negotiating table. The tactic that is being taken, of course, is to avoid coming to the table, but to say it is Israel's fault -- each time finding another reason why this is the case.


Khaled Abu Toameh touches upon this very matter in his analysis in yesterday's Post. Abbas, he says, "appears to have climbed a very high tree -- one that he finds it too difficult to come down from."

What Abbas seems most concerned about, says Abu Toameh, is his credibility:

"In the past year,his standing among his constituents was severely undermined because of his policy of zigzagging...

"Abbas's empty threats and zigzagging have hurt his reputation so badly that now he's being forced to play tough with Israel and the US. To demonstrate this uncompromising approach, Abbas most recently came up with a new condition for resuming the talks: That Israel and the international community recognize before-hand the 1967 boundaries as the official and final borders of the future Palestinian state.

"Abbas's aides in Ramallah say that he needs a 'major concession' from Israel before he returns to the negotiations...'If he succumbs and resumes the talks with Israel unconditionally, our people will throw him out.'"

One of the questions being asked by Palestinians, says Abu Toameh, is whether Abbas any longer has a mandate to negotiate on their behalf.

And it certainly appears that Abbas would just as soon avoid negotiations all together.


Tomorrow, there will be coalition talks between Netanyahu and Livni. The prime minister continues to refer to the serious times we face, speaking of "the importance of the hour." He has reiterated that he does not intend to redistribute portfolios, so that Kadima might be assigned some. (Although he has said that two Kadima members would sit in the Security Cabinet as ministers without portfolio.) In point of fact, if he attempted to take away portfolios already assigned within the coalition, he'd have a rebellion on his hands, and he knows it.

The betting here is that Kadima will not join the government. Netanyahu says he expects a prompt answer.


Also tomorrow, I hope to follow with some significant material about Iran.

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